UCL Division of Biosciences


Mass Spectrometry

Bruker MicroTOF mass spectrometry facility

Mass spectrometry is an analytical tool used for measuring the molecular mass of a sample. For proteins of size up to about 50,000 Da, molecular masses can be measured to within an accuracy of 0.01% of the total molecular mass of the sample i.e. within a 4 Daltons (Da) or atomic mass units (amu) error for a sample of 40,000 Da. This is sufficient to allow minor mass changes to be detected, e.g. the substitution of one amino acid for another, or a post-translational modification.

The instrument is coupled to a HPLC instrument that will provide on-site protein purifications immediately prior to the mass spectrometry measurements.
This is an invaluable method as a quick way to confirm that a recombinant protein has been correctly expressed with the right sequence.
The Bruker instrument was installed in 2004 from BBSRC funding obtained by Professor Paul Driscoll and Dr Renos Savva (Birkbeck). It is good for lower molecular masses.

Other more modern mass spectrometers are installed in Chemistry (Dr Jamie Baker) and in SMB (Dr Kostas Thallassinos). These other instruments are better for probing higher masses.

Please email Dr Vernon Skinner in the first instance.
Dr Vernon Skinner: 020 7679 2728, v.skinner@ucl.ac.uk
Professor Steve Perkins: 020 7679 7048 (via Hearing Assistant), s.perkins@ucl.ac.uk

Subasement SB16 in the Darwin - Bruker MicroTOF mass spectrometer

  • Bruker MicroTOF Focus ESI-TOF Mass Spectrometer
  • AGILENT 1100 HPLC purification input to mass spectrometer


Negotiable. We usually charge £20 per session (half-day) (+ VAT if required), in order to cover maintenance contracts. Please contact us if you need costs for a grant application.

The mass spectrometer can only be used by experienced users. At present these include Vernon Skinner and Steve Perkins in SMB. The running of the instrument has been under new management since 2008, and users are encouraged to discuss their needs with Vernon Skinner. We anticipate that either experienced users will run the samples for you, or users will have to arrange for proper training from Bruker. We hope to write a protocol that explains some basic procedures.

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